Welcome to Sport on the Silver Screen. In this series, I will be looking back over sports movies and series that I have recently watched/re-watched and giving my thoughts on them. Getting into the Schmoedown and starting to follow a number of the personalities from the show has given me a much greater appreciation of movies and seen me starting to watch more, while a resolution for 2022 has also seen me making a resolution to watch more series.
Being a fan of both movies and sports, I have taken the chance to start highlighting the sheer volume of sports movies out there, while also now throwing in the occasional series. In each article I will be giving some details about the movie/series and then a quick review, including a section giving a sports fan’s perspective of the action’s realism.
This series has been heavily influenced by Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai of Action Industries, but I will not be looking at the stradiotional “Fist-pump moment” and “Favourite line” sections due to just how much more content a series provides compared to a movie, instead talking about the prospects for the future of the show. Be aware, there will be spoilers, but I will try to keep them to a minimum.
2021 saw me revisiting the Mighty Ducks movies, and while I had some fun last week with a theoretical ranking of the movies’ 19 players, I also took the chance to binge the newest story in the Mighty Ducks franchise: the series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers
Status Active – renewed for season 2
Released in 2021
Distribution (UK) Disney+
Starring Lauren Graham, Brady Noon, Emilio Estevez, Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia
Synopsis Now a hockey powerhouse, the Mighty Ducks junior team is selective about who makes the roster. After being cut and told he is wasting his time, 12-year-old Evan Morrow and his mother form a new team of underdogs with the help of original Ducks coach, Gordon Bombay, who has since become the despondent owner of a low level ice rink.
Asa fan of the Mighty Ducks, this was one of the early announcements outside of Star Wars and the MC that got me excited about the potential of Disney+. So safe to say it was hard holding off for the best part of a year as I found time to go back over the movies and then find time for the series. But then like a tube of Pringles, once I popped, I couldn’t stop and I binged the show in just 3 sittings, and only that because forced myself to take some time away from the TV!
While I enjoyed it, it certainly didn’t always feel like a Mighty Ducks story. The Ducks felt very different by being the bad guys of the team, and I will admit that this remained a bugbear of mine for pretty much the whole series, but I trusted in the writers and they addressed this in a way that I was happy with. Much of the familiarity came from Gordon Bombay, who was certainly a more cynical and weary character to begin with, but certainly still had that heart that helped us all fall in love with the movies previously. The Ducks feeling very much relies on nostalgia in this first series, most notably in an episode where 6 former players return, but all the pieces are there in a team of misfits who are playing hockey because they enjoy themselves and go on to be one of the top teams, so I feel that season 2 will feel more ingrained as part of the Ducks’ story as we are more familiar with the characters.
One thing that I really appreciated in the series was the time we had to get to know the characters, with the vast majority of our team fleshed out well in a way we would never have been able to get in a movie. We also saw the families behind the players, something that we never really got in the movies aside from Charlie’s mother, an this just allows for extra depth to some of the players, such as Sofi’s perfectionist parents. However on the whole I did find myself disappointed with the adults’ depictions in the series, as all of them other than Bombay seemed so over the top that it was unrealistic. I understand that this is considered a comedy-drama but even comedy requires some believability.
And sadly one of the least believable things was also for me the most frustrating: the character of Alex Morrow. I don’t put this down to Lauren Graham’s performance, but instead how she was written. She was far too much of a worrier as a mother and coach, and while her character did get some growth in the way that she dealt with her job and her boss (who also happened to be the mother of 2 of the Ducks) I never felt that we saw any signs of her really growing as a capable coach. To me, this needs to be one of the big areas addressed going into season 2.
The other issue that I did have was just how little hockey we got at times. A big staple of the Mighty Ducks movies has been what they do on the ice in games, but it sometimes felt like we were going a couple of episodes without any games, only for a quick scene or montage of gametime, perhaps a slightly longer run of episodes would have given us a bit more of a balance and more time to see the fun on-ice antics.
All in all, a strong first season that I think has given the series every chance for success.
A few final thoughts on the series:
- While the Hawks now being one of the worst teams has a certain irony about it, I can’t help wonder why the team’s colour scheme has completely changed
- There was something set up in the initial episode of the show that was shown a couple of ties in the following episodes before being dropped without any mention, only for it to become a key plot point in the final episode (I won’t say what so as not to spoil for anyone who hasn’t watched, but for those who have, it relates to Sofi). I feel that his could have been handled through the series a little better, but again I think this was hampered by how much of the hockey laterin the season was just shown in a couple of montages
The season has ended in a way that sets the show up nicely for season 2, but the loss of Emilio Estevez has me seriously worried, especially given Alex Morrow seems nowhere near ready to coach the team on her own, so we now either need to create a narrative for how she became competent over 1 offseason or find a reason to bring in a new coach who will blend with the classic Ducks way. A former Duck would be ideal—and Charlie Conway would be the prime candidate—but there is no guarantee that Joshua Jackson or any of the other former Ducks actors would be available to take on such a role. Similarly, we now need to find a reason to write Bombay out while likely still using the Ice Palace, which is always going to feel a little contrived as it was not expected. And that will potentially hurt the show’s longevity, as if we don’t feel that this team are the Ducks we love without Gordon Bombay and we have to rely on a cameo or 2 per season, then many of the longtime Ducks fans may fly away.
Beyond that, I think we need to see an expanded roster for the team this year, which can work easy enough given how well most of the team have already been established. I got a feeling in the final episode of the series that Ruby was feeling a little iffy on some of the coaching decisions made, and with her mum’s closeness to Alex growing, a change of teams wouldn’t feel off, while I would also expect maybe 1 or 2 completely new characters to add to the roster.
If the show can keep things going, it has a great chance to follow the team over the next couple of years and all the challenges that brings with it. Puberty is an obvious one, an we already have the creation of 2 couples in season 1, while it would also be easy enough to bring in an LGBT romance within the team from what has been set up in season 1, especially as Nick having 2 mothers is already normalising this. Meanwhile on the ice, we could see players coping with how their bodies change over the next couple of seasons, and it could be interesting to see someone as sweet and calm as Nick have to become the team’s new enforcer because of how he grows into a physical player, or see Evan transition from forward to defenseman if him going through puberty made him a more viable defensive option than some of the current players.
Beyond that, there is aso the question of how Alex progresses. It can be assumed that she will look to move on in her career, could this provide new obstacles to her coaching the team? Or what if she were to start dating the parent of another player? Logan and his divorcé father have moved in on the same street, while another character could always be introduced. And what if further seasons want to take things further, with players potentially having to compete against each other for the same spot in a higher level—something that certainly feels like a potential stumbling block in Evan and Sofi’s relationship.
If season 1 has set the show up well, season 2 feels crucial right now for the longevity of the series.
What did you think of this series? Let me know in the comments. Until next time!